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Jordan Brand History Essay

2944 words - 12 pages

In the beginning…

Early in 1984, Nike was a struggling shoe company. The running shoe phenomenon that has fueled their sales in previous years was slowly dying and they needed a way to revitalize and reinvent themselves in order to appeal to another segment of the market. At the same time, rookie player Michael Jordan was already endorsing several products, but Nike hoped that his appeal would generate sales. Jordan, though, had other ideas. He had always preferred Adidas or the Converse shoes endorsed by North Carolina Coach, Dean Smith, and hoped to sign on with either company. Converse, with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson on board as spokesmen, were not interested in offering a better deal ...view middle of the document...

The video presentation featured slow-motion clips of Jordan's college career and some of his high-flying Olympic moves with a background of then hit music "Jump" by the Pointer Sisters. Nike Head Designer, Peter Moore presented sketches of AJ1 shoes, jumpsuits, and sports apparel, all in black and red. Michael's remarks upon seeing the designs were less than enthusiastic. He is reported to have said,

"I can't wear that shoes, those are Devil colors"

Throughout the entire meeting Jordan was reported to seem disinterested and bored, but as he and Falk left the meeting, Jordan said to his agent, "Let's make the deal."

A Legacy (and a Controversy) is Born

With those four words, the Air Jordan legacy was born. Nike signed Jordan to a $2.5 million deal for 5 years, plus royalties and other fringe benefits. Peter Moore created the first AJ Logo with a basketball with wings lifting it. The introduction of the Air Jordan I turned the athletic shoe industry upside down. Before the AJ I, most basketball shoes were white, but the bold black and red styling of the Jordan I flouted this convention. The NBA banned the shoe from the league in response, but Jordan wore them anyway, racking up serious fines of up to $5000 a game. Nike, of course, was more than happy to pay these to keep the shoes on Jordan's feet and in the public eye. All this controversy and Jordan's spectacular numbers that year served to put the Air Jordan line on the road to becoming a household name.


After winning 1986-87 Slam Dunk competition at Seattle Coliseum, the Jordan logo changed to the familiar Jumpman logo of today, but when it came time to talk about the Air Jordan III, Michael was ready to bolt. Reaction to the Air Jordan II, due in part to the high retail price, hadn't been stellar and designers Peter Moore and Rob Strasser had left Nike to start their own company. They began to court Jordan, hoping to develop the business around him This was a turning point for the line; a make-it-or-break-it moment. It was at this time that Tinker Hatfield stepped in to help the struggling shoe line. Immediately, Hatfield did something completely new and unheard of. His first instinct was to sit down and talk with Michael one on one and ask for his input about the design. Hatfield has stated that this was a very tense time. No one had ever approached the business of designing a shoe like this and Jordan had never had anyone ask his opinion until that time. Ultimately, though, it was the good advice of Michael's father that saw it through. It's reported that he advised his son to stay with the people who had done a good job for him. Eventually the process of designing the shoes and matching apparel drew Jordan in and helped reinforce his commitment to Nike. At Jordan's request, the Air Jordan III was a three-quarter cut basketball shoe made of high quality, lighter than average materials. This non-standard approach to the process of designing basketball shoes led the Air Jordan...

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